Workaholic – But Don’t Care?

Last week, I had another slap-in-the-face kind of conversation with my stepdaughter. She was visiting, and over dinner, when my husband was telling us about a conversation he had at work, she announced she did not want to be like my husband, Geoff or I. She said “You live to work! I just want a 9-5 job I can go to and forget about at 5:01!” The strength of her feeling was such that we wavered between feeling attacked and sorry for her. We explained we both work so hard because we both love our jobs. We only hope she finds a career she loves so much she would give extra hours, socialise with colleagues and essentially show the passion, that her father and I do. She seemed unmoved by this argument. It was an odd feeling, being pitied by her when we often worry for her future, and whether she will get the qualifications for a job she loves.

I related the conversation to a friend who agreed she saw a greater sense of disconnect from many of the young people she knew. She said “They want to put in the minimum hours but still feel entitled to the opportunities and pay of the people they see above them.” In my work, I mostly interact with women in their 30’s and 40’s. I honestly don’t know if this is a real trend among recent grads – or is this something every generation says about the last?

A great friend and Head of HR for an IT company, who could be considered a workaholic herself, once said to me: “I can’t stand it when young people come to me and say they want new projects or a promotion, when they are not even doing what they were hired to do well in the first place. Come back to me when you’ve got your job down pat, and then we’ll look at more interesting projects – but until then, I don’t want to hear from you!” I certainly don’t put in the hours some of my clients do, but my conversation with my stepdaughter was still unsettling and made me wonder, do I care too much about my work? Was she right to pity me? But in the end, I decided because I am lucky enough to get paid for working with amazing women and I don’t feel other areas of my life suffer, I may be a workaholic – but at this point, I don’t care! Find more on female breadwinners here.

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  • Fiona Cowan

    Playing devil’s advocate .. I have experienced a phenomenon earlier in my life when I didn’t have the nous to recognise that I needed to move jobs. My concentration failed, attention to detail wavered, my creative ideas dried up. In short, my work suffered and made me look exactly like someone who ‘couldn’t even do her own job, let alone more’. Maybe stepdaughter has never met people she can relate to, who don’t feel that their work IS work because they love it so much. (And before you say it – parents and steps don’t count. That’s a given!)

  • http://www.ceowomensclub.com/categories/Women-CEOs-Welcome Wayne Tarken

    We work with a lot of women millenials. For the most part they are focused on growth and doing good work. We’ve found http://www.ceowomensclub.com/categories/Women-CEOs-Welcome that they do not value loyalty and hard work as much. Probably because they’ve watched their moms, dads and others work hard for years, maintained loyalty to a firm, sacrificed a lot (including time with kids) to then get laid-off, fired or be under-employed. They don’t see the pay-off. In some ways it’s hard to argue with them. The key is to provide growth opportunities and get them focused on long-term growth expectations. Your step daughter may not be focused on growth but when she does, her reactions could be much different